So if you have a half-written novel in a drawer somewhere, or a brilliant idea you haven’t got around to finishing – this might just be the incentive you need to advance it to first draft stage.
I thought I’d let you know first, so you could gather your material, give it a working title (one you can change later).
You don’t even have to signup with the organisation – you could just set aside in your mind that November will be the month you DO the writing. It does help to have someone checking up on you – so you could maybe just organise for a friend to also spend that month writing something they want to do (doesn’t have to be a novel – it could be the next great recipe book or a travel journal from that fantastic holiday they went on, but haven’t yet written up.) Then you could compare wordcounts as you go.
Zines – are informal, booklets of loosely themed photos or text (can be brief poetry) – pretty much hand printed, hand stapled, passed around. Instead of waiting for a publisher to notice your brilliance as a poet, you can print small zines – ideally with your own or a friend’s photos or illustrations to add visual appeal. Minimal office equipment and skills are needed. If you’re reading this on a computer with an attached printer, you’re halfway there already. By nature, zines tend to be less mainstream, more daring, and if you aim to write challenging poetry – this could be a great format to express yourself. Just 5 pages stapled together gives you 10 pages in which to express yourself. This suits zines, which are often about a small or simple theme, something which interests you for a few weeks, say.
And of course, something small and easy to slip in an envelope means they can become handy calling cards, samples of your poetic wares to give away. Or make in bulk and use for handy gifts for thankyou, happy birthday, holiday greetings. If you’re a creator and have a website listed on the zine, you can distribute your zines at will and know that an interested reader can find out more online.
Interested in making some?
Here are some videos to show examples of zines and easy ways to make them.
(I found this video inspiring because it literally shows the process and a collective is involved – lots of people with different styles. In the collective one, it’s an art zine with pictures, but you can also see zines with writing and hear a writer publicly reading at a zine event).
This next video is simply a guy flicking through zines, lets you get an idea of various look and feels, various materials and styles.
What do you mean – it’s a little bit late telling us this, August has started already?! Do I hear dissension? Verily, I raise a quizzical eyebrow.
But wait – let’s find the positive – you can start today and choose either the prompt for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of August. Oh look – the challenge against today’s date is “First” – so that takes you to the first anyway!!
Right: pencils sharpened, favourite writing pen aloft, knitting needles at stun-ningly gorgeous, or whatever creative tools you wish…… and GO!
If writing a poem seems absurd – still, why not? Perhaps it’s equally strange not to write? Our encouragement to write, today, is from Nobel poet, Wislawa Szymborska of Poland
I prefer to leave early. I prefer talking to doctors about something else. I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations. I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems. I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries that can be celebrated every day.
These few lines are taken from her poem, “Opportunities” – and a lovely example of her (more…)
Advice on beginning to write poetry by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. (Video under 3 mins.)
Read other people’s poetry. Read widely. Read. Read. A lot. ABout 10,000 hours worth, to get a sense of what has gone before. As you read, you are naturally absorbing the technique and rhythms of poetry. It’s like learning to play the cello – you don’t just get one and play brilliantly, you practice and do classes.
Your first writings will probably be for self-expression. This is for yourself. But if you want your work to be read and enjoyed by others – then you have that in mind as you write – “I am making something for someone else”. There are 3 parts to a poem – line, sentence stanza (or verse). You are trying to make all of them good.
The wastebasket is the writer’s best friend. If a poem isn’t working, don’t force it, start another.
“If I’m writing for a while and I’m writing maybe a failure and another failure … a poem will come, often a little poem,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what I’ve written but it would not have occurred had I not been failing.”
Stumbled across this today on the blog Julie Unplugged: “10 smart ways to use your phone to improve your writing”
Listen to conversation around you and capture rich/true dialogue using your audio recording setting.
Take photos, especially those surprise images to write about later. Once you set the intention to be surprised visually, you’ll spot more and more.
Collect “jots” of writing in your notes program in three words or less… what you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel emotionally.
Use your phone’s timer: Do timed stream of consciousness writing at any time in any space – literally write down what you are thinking/noticing, without censoring or trying to make sense. Do timed writing with your note book or straight onto mobile, wherever you are.
Keep a one-sentence journal. At the end of the day, write a one sentence summary of either the entire day or whatever stand out event happened
You can practice haiku, micropoetry – also helps to practice writing tweet sized, meaning and image filled sentences. Try it! Three “lines” – five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. (If you go to twitter and search the hashtag #haiku for more inspiration.)
In your calendar note times (and set alarms!) for sunrises, sunsets or other “time attached” subjects to jog your elbow to be in the right place at the right time.
Find writing time when bored – take notes and people will assume you are texting.
Create writing prompts from what you see. There is never, ever, EVER “nothing to write about!” You can tweet short awarenesses and write them up another time. Examples: “The waitress with very red lipstick reminds me of…” (use later for a stream of consciousness prompt.) “I wonder where that old man at the bus stop is going?” (write later about traveling via bus, the elderly, your Grandpa) “The fallen tree at the side of the road calls me to prune my life of what doesn’t work.” (and later, write more.)
Write how-to articles. Guess what technology was used to write this one?
So, writer/wouldbewriter, the Christmas hols are over, either
a) you want to sit down at the computer and write for publication, but the horror of the flashing cursor on a blank page daunts you
b) someone has bought you a lovely journal to write in – or you’ve got your eye on that beautiful exercise book or pen that you’d love to have but aren’t sure you’d use…. What’s to be done?
Any or all of these starting points below should help.
1. Writing prompts. This is where some external person suggests a phrase or outline to use as subject/jumping off point for creative writing. You’ll find one new phrase for each day of this new year at
2. Go through workbook developing a practice of being an artist (written or visual). That helpful, instructive, encouraging and challenging voice in your ear. Here’s a most useful book
“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. In print, read and used for 25 years, it is a classic – and therefore easy to find in most libraries for free. (But it is worth buying even a secondhand copy). Following it and doing what it says will build some very useful daily practices for being creative.
3. Listen to good advice. Go to Audible and buy for download “Word by Word” by Anne Lamott. This is the writer/speaker’s own voice, giving a couple of seminars (total 2.5 hours) on writing. She encourages you to write and push through the awkwardness and early drafts which look hopeless. Along the way she is funny, witty, down to earth and tells her own personal story into becoming a writer.